A Historic Meeting at the White House on Human Spaceflight
On 20 November 1962, President John F. Kennedy held a meeting
with NASA Administrator James Webb, Director of the Bureau
of the Budget David Bell, and several other people to discuss
the human spaceflight program. The meeting was prompted by
a number of recent events, most notably press reports that
NASA was not devoting enough attention to the Apollo lunar
landing program and the possible requirement for an additional
supplemental appropriation of over $400 million to NASAs
During the meeting, Kennedy, Webb, Bell, and several members
of Webbs staff discussed issues related to human spaceflight
and the need for more money. The discussion was surprisingly
wide-ranging and energetic.
This meeting is a window into the role that human spaceflight
played in international and domestic politics in the early
1960s. It also provides insights into the thinking of high-level
government officials about spaceflight, their personal interactions,
and the cooperation and conflict of their organizations.
The meeting was recorded, but the recording was not released
until August 2001. It is of relatively high quality when compared
to other presidential recordings from the era, but it is still
rather difficult to discern and understand the various voices.
This transcript was prepared by Dwayne A. Day with assistance
from Glen Swanson, John M. Logsdon, and former NASA Associate
Administrator Robert C. Seamans.